Module 1


Benefits of Consumer and Community Involvement in improving health

Consumer and community involvement offers numerous benefits to consumers themselves, as well as healthcare professionals, health service managers and researchers. When consumers and community members work alongside researchers and health professionals, they bring expertise in their health condition and experience of the health system to improve the quality and direction of research and healthcare improvement initiatives. Through their different perspectives and unique insights, consumers offer many benefits. This does not have to be a complex or complicated process.

Involving consumers in projects at the outset results in a more relevant research question.

Benefits for the consumer can include:

  • Contributing to planning, evaluation, and changes to health services for a better health care system
  • Developing personal skills and knowledge
  • Feeling valued and having the power to influence
  • Contributing to setting research priorities for specific health conditions or issues
  • Fulfilling a sense of giving back to the people and services that helped them or wanting to see change as a result of an experience they don’t want to see repeated.

Benefits for researchers or healthcare professionals can include:

  • Being reminded of why the project is important
  • Developing trusting and enduring relationships with the community
  • Aligning the project with the needs and priorities of the community being investigated
  • The opportunity to think about the project from a new angle
  • Ensuring the project is effective and fit for purpose
  • Making interventions acceptable, relevant and responsive to consumer and provider preferences
  • Seeking support from consumers with project recruitment
  • Assisting with research translation, impact and sustained improvements.

Involving consumers in projects at the outset results in a more relevant research question.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life because I was involved and it was about people like me, and it was to help people like me.
Susan Brunton
health advocate and carer
In many ways, it is like a multidisciplinary approach, and one of the disciplines being someone with lived experience of health and understanding that when we involve the public, patients or families in research, they bring a perspective and a knowledge that other people around the table don’t have. Through that they are able to contribute a different way of doing things, a different way of thinking about it.
Susan Biggar
writer and carer